More than 70 students and community members attended the “Vigil for Afghanistan” in the Brickyard Thursday evening. The event was organized by NC State student Arian Farhat, a second-year studying biological sciences, in response to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan following the U.S. withdrawal and subsequent Taliban control of the country.
Farhat said the goal of the vigil was to pray together as a community, to spread resources on how to stay informed on the situation and to donate and raise voices of the Afghan community.
Zuhal Muti, a second-year studying political science, was a speaker at the vigil.
“[Afghan] people are fearing for their lives amidst the collapse of the government and have taken to the streets to protest for their rights,” Muti said at the event. “At the forefront of these protests are Afghan women, who bravely speak out against the injustice and inequalities they face in terms of education, their career and role in society. ... Minority groups face persecution and grave danger as history has shown [through] the awful treatment they have faced under the Taliban rule in the 1990s. The amount of lives lost in Afghanistan is shattering.”
Farhat was the primary event organizer, though she credited support from the Women’s Center, and from friends and peers. While she was encouraged by the support at the vigil, Farhat said that the lack of response from University leadership was “heartbreaking.”
“[Activism] is not a trend, it is a commitment,” Farhat said. “If you claim to care for your students they have to come first. … Don’t be silent, because when you are silent, it speaks volumes. I’d know because I’ve been waiting for a letter from the University and it never came.”
Muti said she wanted to speak because of her parents’ story of coming to the United States from Afghanistan, and wanted the NC State community to hear the voices of those currently suffering in Afghanistan.
“Many people have had to flee the country to seek safety,” Muti said. “A lot of people have been internally displaced within the country. There is a huge, huge, huge crisis at hand. People need to be aware of what's happening so that we can do our best to uplift and support the innocent civilians who are living there and provide them a voice and a platform when they can't use theirs.”
In addition to links to resources for monetary donations, Farhat held a collection for physical donations that will be distributed to Afghan refugees who have arrived in the U.S. in the past few weeks.
“As part of the Afghan diaspora I am very, very proud to be Afghan,” Muti said. “I love my culture. I love my country. I love my roots. It's very unfortunate what's happening right now. Every Afghan is hurting, we're heartbroken, we are aching to help our country and the support from the community has meant a lot. I just want to encourage people to continue having that conversation with their friends and family and continue educating themselves and being a voice for the voiceless.”
Declan Crowe, a second-year studying meteorology and Spanish, attended the vigil after learning about it from a fellow Village Mentor. Crowe said that he and some of his residents donated money and supplies to the cause. Another vigil attendee, Kennedy Elmore, a third-year studying English, said it was encouraging to see so many students at the vigil, and together college students can have “a pretty major impact on campus.”
“It's very hard to listen since the Taliban is very oppressive, but listening to those who are affected, listening to those who know what's going on is super important,” Crowe said. “Educating yourself is extremely important, and of course listening to those who know way more than I do. Please donate, please educate yourself and please find ways that you can help.”
To learn more, Farhat and Muti recommend the Afghan Diaspora Hub, which includes monetary donation and civic advocacy resources. Farhat will also be updating resources on Instagram (@ncsu.vigilforafghanistan) with existing posts that list the types of physical donations that are needed.